Stress catches everyone out at one time or another. Whether you’re stressed because you’re not getting what you want, or stressed because you are and you’re not sure you can handle it, the main cause (in fact the only cause) of stress is resistance. So, as long as you are resisting where you are, you will feel stressed. For example, if you are stressed about money, it is because you are resisting the fact that you don’t have enough. And yet, if it is a concrete fact, then resisting it (because you believe you should have more) doesn’t leave you mentally strong enough to re-evaluate and find a solution. Similarly, if you’re in a dwindling relationship, or hate your boss, then by constantly telling yourself “it shouldn’t be this way”, you are creating stress. You could apply this to whatever is stressing you out right now, be it your health and fitness, your work, your happiness, or anything else. The key here, is acceptance. So check out these great ways you can begin to accept where you are and start moving yourself forward.
Lower your expectations
Now, you’ll know that I’m always bleating on about how low expectations can lower your performance so why on earth am I suggesting that you should lower yours? Well, because sometimes you’re so busy aiming for the stars, that you find yourself frustrated by the fact that you’re still stuck right here on planet earth. The point here is that everything takes time and life is a journey. So, be happy knowing that you’re en route to something more, but relax into enjoying now. Because that’s really all that you can be certain of.
Recognise how far you’ve come
Slow progress is better than no progress and I know that, wherever you find yourself in life, there’s a 100% chance that you’ve grown and progressed significantly over the weeks, months and years behind you. So, even if things don’t seem to be going the way you’d like, and even if you’ve made some mistakes, then check back and notice just how much stronger, wiser and accomplished you’ve become. Put all of your focus into recognising the positives you’ve achieved, give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back, and forgive yourself for anything that hasn’t quite turned out the way you’d planned. Remember, your life didn’t come with an instruction manual, and so you can expect to falter from time to time, even a lot of the time.
Count your blessings
Stress has a habit of making you forget all that is good in your life, and yet it is the good that will get you through. So recognise where your real priorities lie. Don’t get so hung up on the achievement of “stuff” that you fail to take time out to spend with your children, your partner, your friends and your family. These people provide the emotional power you need to boost your wellbeing and cancel out your stress. So stop focusing on what they take from you in terms of diverting your time and energy from your ambitions, and instead focus on what they give to you, such as loving, kindness, compassion, and fun. And remember to switch off from your stresses for a while and give them just as much in return.
Take some you time
Breathing and meditation are often trotted out as cure-alls, but they really do work. So, spend some time quieting your thoughts. Focus on cleansing your body by breathing deeply, right down deep in your diaphragm (push your belly out when you inhale), and allow your mind to observe the physical breathing, while resting from the constant tirade of stress. Do a physical scan of your body at the same time, and notice the stress you’re holding in the various muscles of your body. Take each muscle in turn, and tighten it a little more, then allow it to relax and sink into the surface you’re sitting or lying on.
Also, take some time to just do what you like to do. Watch a movie, read a book, take a long luxurious bath, a walk, or even some exercise. A good run, cycle, swim, or anything else you’ve enjoyed in the past, will do wonders to clear your head and you’ll often generate new ideas while you’re zoned into more physical pursuits.
Acceptance really is a choice, and while the above tips will help you to reduce the impact of stress, the key is actually to accept where you are. See your circumstances for what they are. Refuse to blow them out of proportion, and stop fantasising about all of the terrible consequences that might come your way as a result of your current situation.
Instead, each time you hear yourself saying “I should/would/must [achieve ideal circumstances]” or “It shouldn’t/mustn’t be [current circumstances]”; stop yourself. Firstly, it makes things seem worse than they are. And, secondly, it makes the "ideal" feel like a huge obligation, or another responsibility and, honestly, who wants another of those? So, instead, reframe the statement as “I am [current circumstances] and I am working towards [ideal circumstances]”. For example, “I am feeling frustrated in my work and I am working towards resolving that by…”, (even if your “by” is just by brainstorming a solution or asking for help). Once you accept the situation for what it is, instead of fighting with it because it “should” be different or making it into a bigger deal than it is, it will lose its power over you and you’ll discover the mental bandwidth to create options, and the strength to take action.